A new season begins Friday for the Lovell Bulldogs. Forget the Bulldogs’ 8-0 record and the number-one ranking; all teams are 0-0 when they enter the playoffs, and the Bulldogs have a doozy awaiting them Friday as the red hot Burns Broncs come to town.
Most 1 vs. 4 first-round playoff games feature a lopsided matchup, but not this one – at least on paper. Burns comes into the game 5-3 overall, 5-2 in the 2A East. The Broncs started the season 0-3 but have finished the season with five straight wins, including a forfeit over Tongue River, which cancelled the season.
The Broncos started the season by falling to Lusk, Big Horn and Newcastle, but after the forfeit win, the Broncs defeated Moorcroft, Wheatland, second-ranked Glenrock (22-14) and Wright.
“They’re a hot team right now,” Lovell coach Doug Hazen said. “We’re going to have to make sure we execute and do the things we’ve been doing.”
That means not falling prey to things like turnovers or mistakes on special teams that can cause an upset, Hazen explained.
In order to win, the Bulldogs will need to execute against a team that takes a lot of chances, Hazen said.
“They’ll come after punts, they’ll on-side kick, they’ll throw deep, they’ll use trick plays, they’ll come with safety blitzes,” Hazen said. “It’s high risk/high reward for them.
“It’s been high reward so far. Our goal is to catch them and make it high risk.”
On offense, the Broncs will use a formation similar to the offense the Bulldogs run: two backs, two receivers and a tight end, Hazen said, noting that the Broncs have a very talented running back in Dalton Petsch (#20) and a talented receiver in Colton Wright (#34).
“They are very solid players and two guys we’ve really got to stop,” Hazen said.
Defensively, the Broncs run a four-man front and blitz a lot, leaving their defensive secondary in man-to-man coverage, Hazen said.
Through week seven, the Broncs averaged 131.6 yards per game rushing and 111.3 yards per game passing, while Lovell averaged 230.7 yards rushing and 141 yards per game passing. Lovell was third in team offense, Burns 10th. Lovell was fourth in team defense, Burns sixth.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Robertson Stadium. Per Wyoming High School Activities Association rules, there will be a $5 cost for adults and $3 for students in grades K-12.
The gates will open at 6 p.m., and the senior class will have special concession items as a fundraiser.
“This is a big one,” Hazen said. “If we win it sets the tone for us throughout the playoffs. It’s a big game against a talented opponent.
“8-0 is great, but now it all starts over. The pressure is on again.”
Lovell defeated Burns 20-0 at home in the first round one year ago.
Burns season results
Lusk 12, Burns 7
Big Horn 27, Burns 22
Newcastle 31, Burns 6
Burns over TR, forfeit
Burns 14, Moorcroft 7
Burns 36, Wheatland 29
Burns 22, Glenrock 14
Burns 34, Wright 8
By David Peck